There might be states with more breweries. There might even be some with (gasp) better beer every now and then. But there's only one Zwickelmania.
On Feb. 13, more than 120 breweries across the state will open their doors wide and give attendees a chance to take tours, chat with brewers, and belt back a free sample or two. Like everything else related to Oregon beer, it's grown precipitously over the years: more than 32,000 people visited a brewery during last year's event, and there's no way that number won't grow at least a little bit in 2016.
Portland is the main hub of open breweries during Zwickelmania—there will be a free shuttle that runs through no less than 21 of them between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The biggest event of the day, however, will be over in Astoria, where Fort George Brewery will hold its annual Festival of Dark Arts, a stout-only fest featuring music, fire dancers, blacksmith demos, an onsite tattoo artist, and 60 or so of the blackest, most diabolical beers on earth.
That said, Central Oregon is hardly any slouch. For those in Bend on Feb. 13, the grand opening of Sunriver Brewing's new Bend location is right on Galveston Ave. where Oblivion's taproom used to be (pretty quick makeover!). In addition to live music, a meat-and-cheese beer pairing with Primal Cuts down the street, and fire pits in the brand-spanking-new patio out back, there will be a special toast to commemorate that day's release of Rippin Northwest Ale. This is a great reason to visit Sunriver Brewing for those who have never been (and that's only the start of its special beers, too—check out Motorhead Black Barleywine while there.)
Sunriver's not the only brewery debuting special beers. Craft Kitchen & Brewery will have a double barrel-aged stout and stonefruit lambic on offer, and while in the Old Mill, walk on over to Crux and try some Southern Sister Experimental IPA while a brewer gives a tour of the shiny brass equipment. If in the mood to just get silly (no judging), head to Boneyard's parking lot to enjoy "Pickles and Zwickels," an outdoor party with El Sancho tacos and full pints (at Boneyard? Shocker!) being poured out of the Swig Rig mobile bar. Extra points for remaining upright enough to attend WinterFest later that night!